Release Date: Sep 18, 2015
Record label: Tapete Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Robert ForsterSongs to Play(Tapete)Rating: 4 out of 5 stars The sixth solo shot from ex-Go-Betweens co-founder Forster comes seven years after his previous disc and nine after the untimely death of his long time songwriting partner Grant McLennan. Somewhat more upbeat and friskier than 2008’s not surprisingly melancholy The Evangelist (the first release after McLennan’s passing), Forster’s songs remain pensive, beautifully conceived and subtly produced. Tracks such as the Brazilian tropicalia of “Love is Where it Is” and the jaunty, self-deprecating “I Love Myself and I Always Have” display wry humor and lyrical fleetness, qualities that haven’t typically been a side of Forster he has explored on his own work.
What a dapper cloth Robert Forster, co-founder of the Go-Betweens, cuts his songs from; and, on his first album in seven years, how subtle and distinctive their tailoring. The album’s title is stitched into a tender lyric about vagabond songwriters: the wild west trembles in its hushed guitar and cicadas hum deep in the mix. Cinematic reference shapes Love Is Where It Is too, but here the aura is French New Wave, keyboards floating like cigarette smoke beneath sassy “ba ba ba” vocals; the overall effect is hilarious in its knowing, and yet captivating in its warmth.
Robert Forster's last album, The Evangelist from 2008, was steeped in grief and loss after the sudden death of his friend and Go-Betweens musical partner Grant McLennan. After its release, he retreated from active music making to write award-winning rock criticism that's been collected in the volume 10 Rules of Rock N Roll. He also compiled G Stands for Go-Betweens, the first of three retrospective box sets, and drafted his memoirs.
A new album by Robert Forster is almost always a challenge before it becomes a pleasure. For a start, there’s that voice, which hits less notes than Lou Reed on a less than perfect day. Which means there isn’t a great deal of melody, unlike the songs of Forster’s former songwriting partner in the Go-Betweens, the late Grant McLennan, who wrote the majority of that band’s better-known, poppier material.
The day before he began recording Songs to Play, former Go-Betweens singer-songwriter Robert Forster told me that his forthcoming album was going to be “the start of the next stage.” After the sudden death of his songwriting partner Grant McLennan in 2006, Forster had no choice but to draw the curtain on his beloved band the Go-Betweens, even when they were in the middle of a late-career renaissance. His last solo album, 2008’s The Evangelist, held on to the last embers of said renaissance, even featuring one of the last songs he co-wrote with McLennan. Forster filled the time between The Evangelist and now by producing the John Steel Singers, writing for The Monthly, and helping compile the first Go-Betweens box set.
After a seven-year absence, former Go-Betweens great Robert Forster returns with this low-key lark. Though he's capable of sounding as theatrically distraught as ever, the prevailing mood is that of a victory lap. These songs may be too mellow for their own good, but they're sure hard to turn off. (www.robertforster.net) .
Due to a busy journalism career, former Go-Betweens co-leader Robert Forster doesn’t release records as often as we might like. Fortunately, his albums are always worth the wait. Songs to Play breaks no new ground for the singer/songwriter – the LP revolves around his typically crystalline folk rock played at tempos just above languid, supporting his carefully crafted libretto sung in his dry, conversational style.
Robert Forster — Songs to Play (Tapete)Robert Forster’s last album, The Evangelist, came soon after his Go-Betweens songwriting partner Grant McClennan died suddenly at 48. It was, necessarily, an autumnally gorgeous piece of work, not in the least sentimental, but slow and lush and tinged with sadness. Now, seven years later, after an interval of writing, producing other bands and shepherding the Go-Betweens box set, G Stands for Go-Betweens, Forster has returned with an altogether different set of songs, which are spikier and more propulsive.